Maxed Out

Although I usually try to write a review soon after finishing the book, I actually had to wait quite awhile to write this one. Frankly, the reason came down to a strong difference of opinion on a minor portion of the book. Still the author does an excellent job of presenting his case, and – other than the aforementioned difference – provided an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

I came to this book after listening to Dave Ramsey, debt-free guru, promote the movie of a similar name. When I searched the local library for the movie, I learned that the book also existed! Perhaps that is why the difference was so great – the author seems to take great pains to smack Ramsey over the head with some twisted up differences. The one that stuck the most to me was the false portrayal of why Ramsey recommends ordering your credit report on an annual basis. Scurlock rants about how other folks suggest ordering the report so you can clean up problems and then go further into debt, and he implies this is Ramsey’s reason, as well. But as anyone who listens to Dave knows, the only reason he suggests ordering it is to make sure that you’ve cleaned up ALL of your debts, including those pesky old college-day hangeroners.

And, incidentally and on a side note, if someone is hiding a debt of several thousand dollars from their husband, they aren’t going to suicide because the of credit report. They are going to suicide because they have the guilt and shame of a gambling addiction. To lay that at Dave’s feet is, in my opinion, ludicrous.

With that said – and I had to say it, I tried hard not to, but hey, I had to say it – I enjoyed much of the information given in the rest of the book (although I wondered what else might be manipulated). None of it was new to me because I’ve already followed Dave’s advice and ditched all debt other than my home (which I’m working on paying off), but it was interestingly packaged. I felt it would be thought provoking to those who are unfamiliar with the ideas.

The writing was clear and strong, although I’m not so sure the book itself went anywhere. There didn’t seem to be a progression as much as a slew of interesting facts and stories. Still, I was expecting a dry and academic read, and was surprised to find the book to be a page turner. Overall, it was very enjoyable.

But it did make me wonder if Dave knows just how badly he got slammed, after providing free advertising for the movie over the course of several months…